Ageism, a form of prejudice in which one relates negatively to people due to their age, exists throughout life. However, no attempt has been made to compare ageist attitudes across the life cycle, from young adulthood to old age. Consequently, the current study examined age and gender differences in ageism throughout adulthood.
955 Israeli participants (age range: 18-98 years) were divided into ... [Show full abstract] three age-groups: young (18-39), middle-aged (40-67), and old (68-98), and were administered the Fraboni Scale of Ageism. Age and gender differences were examined both for the three groups and for subgroups within the older adult cohort.
Multivariate analysis of variance revealed that middle-aged participants were significantly more ageist than younger and older groups. Across all age groups, men exhibited more avoidance and stereotypical attitudes toward older adults than women. Among the old age group, participants aged 81-98 held more ageist stereotypes and reported more avoidance of older adults than those aged 68-73. Within the older adult cohort, gender was a significant predictor for ageist attitudes among those aged 68-73 and 81-98, but not for people aged 74-80.
Ageism demonstrates a changing pattern across the life span. While gender differences remain stable, ageist attitudes toward growing old as we age ourselves are constantly changing. In order to gain a better understanding of ageism as a general and global phenomenon, we need to consider the role of such attitudes in different stages of life.